Whether you want to bask in the sun for hours with a book, while your kids are busy with their spades and moulds building sand castles, or fancy waking up to a breathtaking sunrise with a steaming hot cup of tea; or, perhaps, you enjoy walking along the never-ending coastline and exploring the cobbled streets of an old yet modern town – whatever appeals most to you is brought all together at Rimini, one of the many beaches on the Italian coast.
Drive to Rimini
We began our day early at 5 am. The over 7-hour-drive to Rimini is very scenic and totally worth the time. One could take the Saint Gotthard tunnel, which is comparatively faster (provided you don’t get stuck in a traffic jam); or take the longer route just to soak in the beauty and the stunning view of the Swiss Alps before sliding into the flatlands heading to Milan. We chose the latter and drove via the Lukmanier pass, which takes you up at an altitude of nearly 2000 meters into the valley and Canton of Ticino to Milan to Bologna and finally to Rimini.
The Swiss mountains at this time of the year are a mix of patches of snow, dotted with lush green pastures, waterfalls and the almost melted lakes. Just as we entered Milan, we were welcomed by bright blue skies and the sun – a complete change from the rainy and cold Switzerland on the day of our travel. The panoramic views so far had already set our moods for the long weekend getaway, but the sunshine made us smile brighter as we finally rolled the down windows to let in the fresh air!
My Swiss neighbour had warned me when I told her that I was going to Italy on a long weekend. She had said, “here is a saying in Italian: andare a passeggiare in macchina. Fare una passeggiata. That is when the Italians say “Let’s go for a walk”. It actually means they are going to drive!” I understood what she meant as we entered Milan.
The roads were packed with cars on all four days and the traffic moved at snail’s pace. Finally, at Rimini, we headed straight to the beach and spent the evening there; walking along the coastline that seems to be never-ending, sitting by the beach and watching the sun go down, while our girls busied themselves with collecting seashells and building their sand castles.
Though the best time of the year to visit Rimini is after July, May was lovely, too as it was not teeming with crowds. Like us, there were a few other tourists who had chosen this quiet destination as their getaway. Most beaches here are divided into private and public. The hotels and apartments that line along the coast have an arrangement with the beach, so it’s best to check with the hotel that you have booked into to see if you are allowed an entry into a certain part of the beach.
Most private beaches feature a sit-out, a beach ball court and a play area for kids from the ages 2 to 6. What to do when in Rimini The Rimini beach resort has something for everyone. While one could simply spend the time at the beach soaking in the sun, or go to one or both theme parks in the vicinity; have you ever considered going on an animal Safari at your mini beach getaway? Well, Rimini lets you go on that adventure!
- Fiabilandia: Fiabilandia is perfect if you are travelling with kids under 8. It’s colourful, has mini rides suited for kids from 1 to 8 years of age. The entry tickets cost Euro 23.50 for adults and kids over 130 centimetres and for kids, over 100 centimetres it costs Euro 16.50. All children under 100 cms and under 3 years of age get a free entry. The entry on day two is free for all. The park is full of rides for children, which are categorised and age wise for the tiny tots and for 4- to 6-year-olds. There are colourful carousels, motorbikes, cars and train rides that kids can enjoy by themselves or accompanied by a parent. The park also features roller coasters and fun water rides. The best parts of the park:
- Caterpillar ride: my girls just decided to call it the ‘very hungry caterpillar’ that took us on a ride eating each fruit it passed through!
- The Mine ride: this ride takes you into a mining cave and you see tiny dwarfs at work!
- The 4D movie theatre: on a hot sunny day after all the rides this theatre is quite relaxing and a lot of fun for the whole family. There are timings for different shows and you e can choose the movie that you are interested in. We watched Ali Baba and the 40 thieves that lasted a little over 20 minutes. There are little water pumps attached to each seat for a dash of the fourth-dimensional splash in the movie.
- The food joints: there is quite a variety for the whole family. The one on the little lake was our favourite.
- The little Ferry ride: – the park is not that big, but tiny legs can still get Tired. So here is a 5-minute long ferry that takes you through wonderful views from one end of the park to the other.
- Mirabilandia: a bigger amusement park with a lot of water rides and is for kids over 8. Especially suited for those who like heights and adventure rides. The park also features an artificial beach.
- Animal Safari at Ravenna: the best part of the trip. No surprise that kids love going to the Zoo and most families in Zurich head to the Zurich Zoo, the Knies Kinderzoo at Rapperswil or the Arth Goldau Zoo where you get to feed the animals. But an animal Safari was a first for us as a family. The Safari at Ravenna gives you a few options. You could do the safari the following ways:
- Take your own car
- Take a little car that fits a family of four (provided by the zoo) which you can drive on your own
- The Safari train that has about 4 coaches and a driver explaining (only in Italian though!) all that you want to know about the animals and the park. Each coach is given two baskets full of carrots which you can feed the giraffes, llamas, zebras and goats. We took the Safari train considering we’ve never been on a safari before. And the one-and-a-half hour safari took us into different trails – elephants, giraffes, tigers, lions, lamas, zebras to name a few.
It really feels like you are in a cage while the animals are freely roaming around coming to see you as your train makes a stop. Seeing the lions and tigers up close was an experience in itself.
The animals got up, moved around, crossed our train, and the cars of the families that were doing the trails on their own. On the lion and tiger trails, there were jeeps stationed with the Safari team patrolling the area just to be sure to avoid danger. Once done you could take a walk in the area that has baby animals. Children enjoy feeding the goats here.
You can end your day with coffee and crisps or ice cream, while the kids get to play in a very large play area which features life-sized animals and along with other rides and trampolines.
We spent our last day at the beach before heading back to Zurich. It would have been ideal to spend the whole week at Rimini, but if you are short on time, four days is packed with adventure and is a refreshing change as well.
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